By Keith Plocek
By Edwin Goei
By Edwin Goei
By Matt Coker
By Edwin Goei
By Dave Mau
By Gustavo Arellano
Visit the rest of Orange County's best damn dining guide at ocweekly.com/food, where it says "Where to Eat Now" on the right side of the screen. If there are any bugs with it, e-mail Gustavo at firstname.lastname@example.org with your complaints!
3070 W. Lincoln Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92801
4544 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90621-1133
Region: Buena Park
3333 Bristol St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Region: Costa Mesa
34689 St. of the Golden Lantern
Dana Point, CA 92629
Region: Dana Point
12017 Harbor Blvd.
Garden Grove, CA 92840-4001
Region: Garden Grove
981 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Region: Laguna Beach
Lake Forest, CA 92630
Region: Lake Forest
321 W. Katella Ave., Ste. 101
Anaheim, CA 92802
453 Newport Center Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
Region: Newport Beach
201 N. Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92866
DINNER FOR TWO:
¢ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Less than $10!
$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $10-$20
$$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $20-$40
$$$ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ¡Eres muy rico!
ALI BABA RESTAURANT
For those of you who like your Arabic and Persian food on sticks, order the jujeh kebab, chicken kebabs surrounded by mounds of basmati rice. The slightly bland rice serves as a good counterpart to the succulent chicken, pepper and onion pieces. 100 S. Brookhurst St., Ste. D, Anaheim, (714) 774-5632. $$
I defy anyone to find a finer summer Friday night than the kind you get at Angelo's: a burger-fries-and-Coke combo for six bucks, a girl/boy by your side, nameless kids chucking pickles at one another, buxom waitresses skating without pause, and the half-Latino, half-white crowd communally willing another Vlad Guerrero horsehide bomb into the television sky. 511 S. State College Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 533-1401. $
MATIKI ISLAND BARBEQUE
Whether tucked between two bread slices or served alongside rondures of rice and macaroni salad, the beef at Matiki Island Barbeque is among the most memorably delicious pieces of cow you'll ever chew: ruddy, soft, not burnt at all, a veritable luau on your palate. That beef and other entrées are the sole enticers here—no need for Polynesian bric-a-brac when the food is a slice of the island alongside two scoops of rice and one of macaroni salad. 3070 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, (714) 821-5228. $
You're probably the second non-African to visit Merhaba after me, so the female owner will be extra-attentive and repeatedly ask if you enjoy her East African recipes. You will. East African cuisine sticks mostly to stews: chewy cubes of tibisy beef; lamb ribs battling with furious peppers for control of your tongue; the famous Ethiopian doro wat, spicy chicken cooked in butter, hot like the pits of hell. The vegetarians in your party will content themselves with the shiro, an Eritrean chickpea mush similar to hummus. 2801 W. Ball Rd., Ste. 5, Anaheim, (714) 826-8859. $
An Armenian take on poultry. Although non-poultry products are available, eschewing chicken here is like going to Laguna Beach without going to the beach. The chicken itself is cooked piping-hot with a crisp golden skin that puts every other chicken skin we've eaten to shame. 2424 W. Ball Rd., Stes. S & T, Anaheim, (714) 229-2060; www.zankouchicken.com. $
HOT DOG ON A STICK
While these lemonade-churning chicks and guys do serve the dead stuff, they also peddle awesome veggie corn dogs. And to ensure that you are not ingesting a real wienie, the jockey-hatted crew differentiate their dogs with a green dot on the end of the stick. 2153 Brea Mall Way, Brea, (800) 321-8400. ¢
This tiny joint has restored the art of fast food to its original intention: serving grub as quickly and as tasty as possible. Choose from more than 20 different entrées like adobo and lechon, but all are so delicious it?s really a matter of deciding which one you want spilling over the Styrofoam plate it?s served on. 4544 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, (714) 739-4479. ¢
Located at the tranquil Sherman Library and Gardens, the café?s menu is well-thought-out. The mushroom soup is the color of a spa mudpack with an earthy mushroom flavor, and all of the desserts are made on the premises. 2647 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar, (949) 673-0033. $$
While the Avanti menu is strictly vegetarian, with faux meats and even cheese, the steak-and-potatoes crowd will hardly notice or care. Every entrée, appetizer and dessert springs with flavor and heftiness; is there anything more mainstream than a morning cup of joe washing down crunchy waffles? 259 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 548-2224. $$
Slurping zinc-laden raw oysters at Costa Brava brings out the bravado in its loyal patrons. Try the super-popular coctel de camarones; the flash-fried whole catfish and red-snapper fillet with garlic sauce are also done up right. 727 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 650-8272. $
MAGGIANO'S LITTLE ITALY
The choices for family dining are voluminous, and everything from the calamari to the lasagna to the shrimp—especially the shrimp—to the tiramisù is outstanding. The portions are huge, making us Americans the luckiest bunch of pigs this side of Charlotte's Web. 3333 Bristol St., Costa Mesa, (714) 546-9550. $$
PUPUSERÍA SAN SIVAR
The hole-in-the-strip-mall takes special care with its pupusas, which have a crispy yet malleable crust encasing thick, sticky cheese. Meanwhile, an oily, impossibly sugary plantain lying alongside refried beans is like a battle between the lush tropics and the spartan plains of El Salvador on the tongue; a side of sweet sour cream negotiates a tasteful truce. 1940 Harbor Blvd., Costa Mesa, (949) 650-2952. $
SEÑOR BIG ED
Ignore bustling Lincoln Avenue outside, and you can almost imagine Puerto Rico transplanted to this pedacitoof Orange County's industrial-park northwest. Many grand borinquenappetizers, but Señor Big Ed?s plato de resistance is the canoa de plátano maduro, a banana bloated with so much ground beef and melted Cheddar cheese that it looks like a quesadilla for Horatio Sanz. 5490 Lincoln Ave., Cypress, (714) 821-1290. $
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